Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Train, Tunnel, Trail, Tram, Trolley, Train

A recent Travel adventure:

Train - Our adventure started with a half mile walk to the MAX station at 60th and the Banfield Freeway where we boarded the west bound train. First destination - the Washington Park station under the West Hills. 

Tunnel - After leaving downtown Portland, the train shifted into high speed as it approached the tunnel. The Washington Park stop, 260 feet below the surface, is the deepest in the US. I don't like anything to do with heights or depths so I felt every one of those 260 feet pressing down on me. As we stepped off the train we experienced the true meaning of the term "wind tunnel" and quickly made our way to the elevator looking for fresh air and sunlight. 

Trail - Our route for the day took us past the Oregon Zoo entrance, across Canyon Road, and down a freeway on-ramp to a little known trail that climbs up to the top of Council Crest. Except for the receding sound of the freeway, it felt like being in the forest not the city.

At the top of 1,000+ foot Council Crest, a panorama of city, countryside and mountains surrounded us on all sides. We learned the origin of the name by reading about a group of ministers who made a two hour trip by wagon in the 1800s to seek clear council at the place where we stood. They named the spot in honor of their meeting and fire councils of native peoples they imagined might have taken place there.

On the East side of the park we picked up the trail again descending through thick forest occasionally crossing residential streets as we hiked down to Oregon Health Sciences University.

Tram - In the comfort and safety of our living room a ride by tram seemed like a perfectly reasonable idea. When we arrived at the platform cantilevered several hundred feet above the city, all reason evaporated. "I don't think I can do this" I said quietly not wanting to attract attention from the people oohing and awing as they dangled their arms carelessly over the platform railing. "Yes you can," Gary replied.

Finally, after what seemed like hours, the car arrived and we piled in from two sides causing it to swing much like the car on a Ferris Wheel when it stops at the top of the arc. I quickly sat down in one of two seats and grabbed the nearby pole to calm my nerves. Miraculously the short trip down the hillside ended without incident.

Trolley - The terminus of the tram at a new waterfront development of high rise condos and offices South of the Rose Island Bridge is connected to Portland State University, downtown and NW Portland by a modern trolley. 

Train - After our arrival downtown by trolley, we transferred to a MAX train and returned home via our original route.

On hearing about another journey involving heights, some have asked if Gary is either trying to break my fear or collect on my life insurance. There is no hope of breaking my fear and I don't have life insurance. I do plan to ask him for more details about the next trip, but regardless of what I learn from my inquiry I will be eager to embark on a new adventure with my very special tour guide. 

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